By Dr George Venturini
Heinz Alfred ‘Henry’ Kissinger obtained a Ph.D. at Harvard University in 1954. His interest was on Castelreagh and Metternich – two empire builders. He devoted his life to sublimate them.
In an incendiary, studiedly defamatory book the late Christopher Hitchens described him as “a mediocre and opportunist academic [intent on] becoming an international potentate. The signature qualities were there from the inaugural moment: the sycophancy and the duplicity; the power worship and the absence of scruple; the empty trading of old non-friends for new non-friends. And the distinctive effects were also present: the uncounted and expendable corpses; the official and unofficial lying about the cost; the heavy and pompous pseudo-indignation when unwelcome questions were asked. Kissinger’s global career started as it meant to go on. It debauched the American republic and American democracy, and it levied a hideous toll of casualties on weaker and more vulnerable societies.”
The story is all here: from the martyrdom of Indochina to becoming the real backchannel to Moscow on behalf of his new client: Donald Trump.
Editor’s note: This outstanding series by Dr Venturini is published bi-weekly (Wednesdays and Saturdays). Today we publish Part Two. Here is the link to Part One; Henry Kissinger: a courtier to atrocity.
The United States should be seen as quite incapable of peace-making – not the least thanks to Dr. Kissinger – now 93 – who is associated with major “war crimes, for crimes against humanity, and for offences against common or customary or international law, including conspiracy to commit murder, kidnap, and torture” in places such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Timor, and Chile as stated in the classical book about his peace-making by Christopher Hitchens, The trial of Henry Kissinger.
As for Brzezinski – who died in May, 2017 – he did not seem to have as much blood on his hands but his hawkish “Realpolitik” contributions to U.S. foreign policy – including its failures – over decades are sufficiently well described in Wikipedia.
So, undoubtedly these voices from past militarist and imperialist enterprises – here understood as theoretical concepts, not as ideological slogans – were supposed to enlighten the participants in Oslo, young university students in particular, in the right teachings, in U.S. international political history and concepts, promote their surreal peace concept and present an interpretation of the – surely – benign U.S. and its ‘exceptionalist’ role in the future ‘world order’.
Of course, it should be said as firmly as possible that universities should be unconditionally open to free academic debate and totally enjoying freedom of expression. Thus even the two cast-off ideologues are entitled to that, particularly in a truly peace-loving country like Norway.
But one cannot help asking a question: who would receive the same honour while holding different, opposite views, as should be the case in usual academic-intellectual settings?
And another question arises: will the Nobel Institute and Oslo University honour intellectuals with such other values and perspectives? Would they invite victims of the policies of the U.S. under the influence of Kissinger and Brzezinski? And if so, when?
And would somebody be invited to a similar high-profiled event who works with peace concepts which – in stark contrast with the two invitees – are based on conflict analysis, anti-imperialism, anti-militarism, disarmament, nonviolence, reconciliation, forgiveness and the cultures of peace including dialogue and negotiations?
Would the two institutions be equally proud to invite scholars and diplomats who – in stark contrast to those two – stand firmly on the United Nations Charter provisions that war shall be abolished and that peace shall be established by peaceful means, meaning that all civilian means shall be tried and found in vain before the U.N. organises a military action? In other words, supporters of international law and not violators of it?
Still – while repeating a profession of absolute intellectual freedom and open debate, particularly at a university, or in association with the Nobel Peace Prize, it would be difficult to approve of the choice of the Nobel Institute in inviting people such as Kissinger and Brzezinski. The Institute, as well as the Nobel Committee which decides who shall be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, has a mandate based upon the will of Alfred Nobel. Nobel left written that the Prize should go to “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”
Clearly neither Kissinger nor Brzezinski distinguished themselves in honouring Nobel’s assignment.
To award prizes, to honour by invitations, alleged, or plainly not-indicted, war criminals should, by simple logics, be unthinkable.
The Kissinger-Brzezinski event could only be regarded as nothing less than a slap in the face of everyone working for peace and of Alfred Nobel’s will. It was a crystal clear violation of that will and legal authorities, and the Swedish Nobel Foundation ought to secure that nothing of the sort ever happens again. But, if words no longer count for their real meaning, so that ‘peace is war and war is peace’, there is a high possibility that forgetful administrators, uncaring about a will and legal issues, may repeat the experience.
It would still be difficult to find experts similar to two of the oldest and worst representatives of the most militant and war-fighting country on earth to discuss the world’s future and peace. The risk is high that other administrators of an intellectually and morally decayed country, large or small, but totally submissive to the United States, would repeat the experience.
It is not known how many people turned up to hear Kissinger and Brzezinski. What is known is that Kissinger in particular became the target of a peaceful protest outside the University building in downtown Oslo. The protesters carried a banner reading: “Kissinger krigsforbryter – Kissinger a war criminal”. Another banner read “Kissinger rettssaken – Kissinger trial”.
One of the protest leaders, Herman Rojas, speaking to news agency NTB – Norway Today, accused Kissinger of being a war criminal and directly responsible for Operation Condor in seven countries in Latin America. Rojas had taken refuge in Norway from Chile in 1978, when his family had fallen victim of the Pinochet dictatorship and faced persecution.
As the legacy of Chile’s former C.I.A.-supported dictator Augusto Pinochet still haunts the South American country ten years after his death, a grandson of assassinated President Salvador Allende called on Norwegian authorities to arrest Kissinger, during his visit to Oslo, for his support of the 1973 coup in Chile and the brutal repression it unleashed.
“Dear Norway, arrest Henry Kissinger, the man that planned the coup d’état in which my grandfather was killed.” he wrote.
Pablo Sepulveda Allende’s call joined the voices of thousands who demanded Kissinger’s arrest in Norway. “When a government claims to defend peace and human rights like Norway does,” – wrote Sepulveda – “is it too much to ask that a war criminal with direct responsibility for genocide, torture and military coups be declared persona non grata or be detained and stand trial according to international law?”
Sepulveda added that he was “shocked” by the “tribute” to Kissinger that he argued “belittles millions of victims” of the former secretary of state’s abuses. He noted that Kissinger, together with the C.I.A., supported and helped orchestrate “political terror campaigns and murder of leftist, Indigenous people, trade unionists and others who stood in the way of U.S. objectives for control of the region.” (Grandson of Chile’s Salvador Allende Demands Kissinger’s Arrest, 11 December 2016).
The protest received the support of the Socialist Youth and many Latin America groups, with more than 7,000 people calling for Kissinger’s arrest in Norway.
A campaign group called RootsAction gained more than 7,000 signatures on a petition to call upon Norway’s director of public prosecutions to arrest the former diplomat as he was “complicit or a main act in many violations of the Genocide Convention and of the Geneva Conventions.”
The protesters well remembered how in 1973 Kissinger had received the Nobel Peace Prize, a grant that many people throughout the world characterised as one of the biggest mistakes in the Prize’s history. Kissinger never went to Oslo to collect the award that he had received together with his Vietnamese counterpart Lê Ðức Thọ, who refused to accept the award.
It was then that Tom Lehrer was brought to quip: “Political satire became obsolete when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.”, as one would find mentioned in articles and interviews, including ‘Stop clapping, this is serious’ (See, for instance, The Sydney Morning Herald, 1 March 2003).
Two members of the Nobel Committee would resign in protest against the award.
It was bad enough that the link between the Prize Committee and the conferring Institute was Prof. Olav Njölstad – a historian. He relieved himself to his satisfaction by saying: “We are very proud to make this happen. Dr. Brzezinski and Dr. Kissinger are two of the world’s foremost academic experts on U.S. foreign policy and international politics. Both of them have been political decision-makers at the highest level and know U.S. politics from the inside.”
To that the University Rector Dr. Med. Ole Petter Ottersen added: “The University of Oslo is very pleased about this partnership. … It is important to highlight dialogues on peace and conflict issues and to discuss them from an interdisciplinary perspective. We also hope to involve students in these discussions.”
It may be worth remembering what Kissinger said when receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973 and confronting it with what he was reported as saying in 2016.
“To the realist, peace represents a stable arrangement of power; to the idealist, a goal so pre-eminent that it conceals the difficulty of finding the means to its achievement. But in this age of thermonuclear technology, neither view can assure man’s preservation. Instead, peace, the ideal, must be practised. A sense of responsibility and accommodation must guide the behavior of all nations. Some common notion of justice can and must be found, for failure to do so will only bring more ‘just’ wars.
In his Nobel acceptance speech, William Faulkner expressed his hope that “man will not merely endure, he will prevail.” We live today in a world so complex that even only to endure, man must prevail – over an accelerating technology that threatens to escape his control and over the habits of conflict that have obscured his peaceful nature.
Certain war has yielded to an uncertain peace in Vietnam. Where there was once only despair and dislocation, today there is hope, however frail. In the Middle East the resumption of full scale war haunts a fragile ceasefire. In Indo-China, the Middle East and elsewhere, lasting peace will not have been won until contending nations realise the futility of replacing political competition with armed conflict.
America’s goal is the building of a structure of peace, a peace in which all nations have a stake and therefore to which all nations have a commitment. We are seeking a stable world, not as an end in itself but as a bridge to the realisation of man’s noble aspirations of tranquillity and community.
If peace, the ideal, is to be our common destiny, then peace, the experience, must be our common practice. For this to be so, the leaders of all nations must remember that their political decisions of war or peace are realised in the human suffering or well-being of their people.”
Kissinger’s record was brought up during the 2016 Democratic Party presidential primaries. Long before the election, Hillary Clinton cultivated a close relationship with Kissinger, describing him as a “friend” and a source of “counsel.”
In 2014, reviewing a recent book by Kissinger, World order (New York City, New York), Hillary Clinton stated that she relies on Kissinger for advice. She said that, in her view, “Kissinger’s vision is her vision: ‘just and liberal.’ ” And again: “ … he checks in with me and gives me reports from his travels.” Ironically, the worse things get in the world, the more Kissinger’s stock rises. He is seen with nostalgia by American political class, as a serious person who had a serious vision. The reality, of course, is otherwise.
During the Democratic Primary Debates, Clinton touted Kissinger’s praise for her record as Secretary of State. In response, candidate Bernie Sanders issued a critique of Kissinger’s foreign policy, declaring: “I am proud to say that Henry Kissinger is not my friend. I will not take advice from Henry Kissinger.”
In Oslo Kissinger, who took the occasion to plead for a chance to be given to then-President-elect Trump to develop his policies, would be reported as saying: “International debate should be over evolving American policy, not over [Trump’s] campaign rhetoric.” … “Before postulating an inevitable crisis, an opportunity should be given to the new administration to put forward its vision of international order” he added. (‘Henry Kissinger tells Nobel Peace Prize forum to give Donald Trump a chance’, The Independent, 12 December 2016). It had become known that Kissinger was due to meet Donald Trump “for foreign policy talks.”
Initially received with considerable scepticism and incredulity, the Nobel Institute’s invitation came to be regarded as a ‘farce’ and led to questioning the credibility of the Institute. “Kissinger to talk about world peace? Which Twilight Zone episode is this?” asked one of the attendees. “It is like inviting Hitler to a Jewish wedding” added another.
As for Brzezinski, former National Security Advisor to President Carter and ‘mentor’ to President Obama, it was observed that he was directly responsible for the rise of Islamic terror and much of the disorder currently plaguing the Middle East through his arming of certain factions to destabilise governments for political ends. Obama, his admitted pupil, has done much of the same in Syria and Libya among other nations, despite winning the Nobel Peace Prize himself in 2009.
For a complex of reasons, some of them perhaps fruit of prejudice but many – most in fact – quite justified, many people have come to believe that there is something evil around Henry Kissinger, despite his copious publications and his many speeches.
Some such attitude comes from memorable quotes, which undoubtedly help in making up a public view of the person. Thus one would easily remember some of his most famous, and rather nasty, quotes about people and sketches of life.
Most sensible persons would regard a Nobel Peace Prize being conferred on Kissinger as the most hideous badge of murder – the mark of a satanic revelry in intent of the gravest order for humanity.
Notions set forth by Kissinger in his very many works include the idea that the elderly are useless eaters. It would not apply now to him, although he is undoubtedly elderly – yet he still eats. But one would find in the book by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, The final days (Simon & Schuster, New York 1976) the following Kissinger quote: “The elderly are useless eaters.”
There may be some compensation in a more candid view about military persons: “Military men are ‘dumb, stupid animals to be used’ as pawns for foreign policy.” Those words were said by Kissinger in the presence of General Alexander Meigs ‘Al’ Haig Jr. – reported in the previous source, at 208.
And again in that book, one could perceive a double meaning in the saying that “Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac.”, as quoted also in The New York Times (28 October 1973) and with a lesser known variant: “Power is the great aphrodisiac.”, as quoted in The New York Times (19 January 1971).
But there is only one way to interpret the following: “Depopulation should be the highest priority of foreign policy towards the third world, because the US economy will require large and increasing amounts of minerals from abroad, especially from less developed countries.” Which comes from National Security Memo 200, dated 24 April 1974, authored and signed by Kissinger.
And what of the following: “Today Americans would be outraged if U.N. troops entered Los Angeles to restore order; tomorrow they will be grateful. This is especially true if they were told there was an outside threat from beyond, whether real or promulgated, that threatened our very existence. It is then that all peoples of the world will plead with world leaders to deliver them from this evil. The one thing every person fears is the unknown. When presented with this scenario, individual rights will be willingly relinquished for the guarantee of their being granted to them by their world government.” Said at Evian, France, at a Bilderberg meeting on 21 May 1992. (Unbeknownst to Kissinger, his speech was taped by a Swiss delegate to the meeting).
Kissinger has a history of saying outrageous things which reveal a dark callousness and hostility to the lives of innocent civilians. Here are some of his dicta:
From his own Ph. D. thesis: “the most fundamental problem of politics, which is not the control of wickedness but the limitation of righteousness.” In A world restored: Metternich, Castlereagh and the problems of peace, 1812-22 (1957) 206, quoted by Walter Isaacson, “Henry Kissinger reminds us why Realism matters”, Time, 4 September 2014. Forty years later Kissinger would write: “Realpolitik for Bismarck depended on flexibility and on the ability to exploit every available option without the constraint of ideology.” in Diplomacy (Simon & Schuster, New York 1994).
On Dan Ellsberg: “Because that son-of-a-bitch – First of all, I would expect – I know him well – I am sure he has some more information – I would bet that he has more information that he’s saving for the trial. Examples of American war crimes that triggered him into it … It’s the way he’d operate. … Because he is a despicable bastard.” (Oval Office tape, 27 July 1971).
On bombing Vietnam: “It’s wave after wave of planes. You see, they can’t see the B-52 and they dropped a million pounds of bombs … I bet you we will have had more planes over there in one day than Johnson had in a month … each plane can carry about 10 times the load of World War II plane could carry.” (Telcon, The President/Mr. Kissinger 11:30 – 15 April 1972).
On his own character: “I’ve always acted alone. Americans like that immensely. Americans like the cowboy … who rides all alone into the town, the village, with his horse and nothing else … This amazing, romantic character suits me precisely because to be alone has always been part of my style or, if you like, my technique.” (November 1972, in an interview with Italian journalist/writer Oriana Fallaci), as quoted in ‘Oriana Fallaci and the Art of the Interview’ in Vanity Fair (December 2006).
On illegality/unconstitutionality: “The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer” as quoted in The Washington Post (23 December 1973); also at a 10 March 1975 meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Melih Esenbel in Ankara, Turkey.
On possible assassination by a President of the United States: “It is an act of insanity and national humiliation to have a law prohibiting the President from ordering assassination.” (Statement at a National Security Council meeting, 1975).
On the Khmer Rouge: “How many people did (Khmer Rouge Foreign Minister Ieng Sary) kill? Tens of thousands? You should tell the Cambodians (i.e., Khmer Rouge) that we will be friends with them. They are murderous thugs, but we won’t let that stand in the way. We are prepared to improve relations with them. Tell them the latter part, but don’t tell them what I said before.” at a 26 November 1975 meeting with Thai Foreign Minister.
On bombing Cambodia: “[Nixon] wants a massive bombing campaign in Cambodia. He doesn’t want to hear anything about it. It’s an order, to be done. Anything that flies or anything that moves.” (Phone call with Gen. Alexander Haig, 9 December 1970, The Kissinger Telcons, National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 123, Edited by Thomas Blanton and Dr. William Burr, posted on 26 May 2004).
On Soviet Jews: “The emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union is not an objective of American foreign policy. And if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern. Maybe a humanitarian concern.” (Statement of 1973, as quoted ‘In tapes, Nixon rails about Jews and Blacks’, The New Your Times, 10 December 2010).
On Robert McNamara, former U.S. Secretary of Defense: “Boohoo, boohoo … He’s still beating his breast, right? Still feeling guilty.” (Pretending to cry, rubbing his eyes).
On elections in Chile: “I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its people. The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves.” Meeting of the ‘40 Committee’ on covert action in Chile (27 June 1970) quoted in The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence(1974).
In the eighties: “America has no permanent friends or enemies, only interests.” Henry Kissinger, The White House Years (Simon & Schuster, New York 1979), quoted from Dinesh D’Souza: What’s so great about America. This echoes Lord Palmerston’s words: “We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow.”
Over the years, Kissinger has worked closely with Nelson, and then with David Rockefeller. He was instrumental in the design and implementation of the successful C.I.A. operation which installed Gen. Pinochet (11 September 1973) as dictator of Chile, thus preserving Rockefeller business interests there.
Henry Kissinger has been an advisor (officially or unofficially) to every president since Eisenhower, except for John F. Kennedy, who did not want Kissinger near the White House. Kennedy declared that Kissinger’s policies were – and perhaps Kissinger himself was – “insane”.
Richard Nixon, however, thought he was such a great asset that he not only took Kissinger on as National Security Advisor, but made him Secretary of State as well. While Nixon and Congress were preoccupied with Watergate, Kissinger was busy running U.S. foreign policy, hopping around the globe making secretive closed-door deals with foreign countries.
When Gerald Ford took office, he drastically diminished Kissinger’s role. Ford considered this move to be his “most important contribution” to foreign policy.
Bob Woodward’s book, State of denial (Simon & Schuster, New York 2006) portrays Kissinger as the single most frequent outside adviser to President George W. Bush on foreign policy.
A master of secrecy and deception, some say it was quite logical that George W. Bush chose Kissinger to head the 9/11 investigations. Shortly after accepting the post, Kissinger resigned when a legal opinion from the Senate Ethics Committee said that all members of the commission would have to comply with Congressional financial disclosure requirements. Senator Harry Reid, Chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee, stated “There were too many conflicts of interest for him to lead this task. I knew he would never disclose that information.”
Next installment Wednesday: Who is really Henry Kissinger?
Dr. Venturino Giorgio (George) Venturini, formerly an avvocato at the Court of Appeal of Bologna, devoted some sixty years to study, practice, teach, write and administer law at different places in four continents. He may be reach at George.Venturini@bigpond.com.au.
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